How Coronavirus Outbreak is Impacting the E-Commerce and Online Business Sales?
While the world is battling the Corona Virus outbreak with its huge health implications, its claim on economy and business has been as widespread. The one thing that is seeing a definite shift in the pandemic is spending priorities.
Amidst these unprecedented changes, there have been voices that have been stating that e-commerce is slated to grow on account of the current conditions. It stands to reason that with a large population homebound with the COVID-19 outbreak, e-commerce is an effective fallback. In fact a bullish scenario states that as customers avoid public places, online divisions of retailers stand to gain.
In the current scenario we have already seen essential supplies such as e-groceries, food and medical supplies see unprecedented sales. In China, for example, restaurants and cinema chains that have seen a massive drop in footfalls, have in fact shared their employees with an e-grocery supermarket to aid delivery services. All of this is perhaps an indicator of the fact that the digital arm of retail businesses, at least those of essential commodities, is likely to show a high rate of growth.
While one needs to see how the economy progresses, the fact is retailers cannot afford to wait and watch. They will need to leverage their assets to inspire demand. For starters that includes boosting their digital marketing efforts. When it comes to e-commerce solutions, in particular, the following short term & long run measures need to be in place:
- Ensure that you have a robust e-commerce and Shopping cart solution in place. If you haven’t already invested in one, it is time to act now.
- Time and efforts will need to be spent in ensuring that product information is up-to-date and accurate. It is also important to see that products are discoverable through search as also through content marketing. It will help to mark the out-of-stock items clearly so that there is no customer dissonance.
- Speaking of mitigating customer dissonance, there is a pressing need to ensure fair price marketing and set achievable delivery dates so that you do not land up over-committing yourself.
- An important aspect to tackle is also how the delivery will be fulfilled especially as people are sensitive to having anyone visit their premises. You need to take adequate precautions to keep the products as well as your people safe.
- Beyond these business practices, in unprecedented times such as these, it is extremely important to see how you can support the larger community. It could be helping them with essential supplies, setting up a credible donation platform or offer logistical support.
While these are immediate business strategies, in the long term however it may mean a host of changes including pivoting towards new products, newer business models, improved customer engagement and more. E-commerce and digital medium at large will be central to all of this. Emerging digital technologies such as augmented reality or visual search would also come in handy in times such as these.
This, however, is not to discount the fact that supply chain issues and uncertain consumer demand, if the economy falters, are important factors to consider when it comes to the online business sales outlook in the long term. E-commerce businesses may need to contend with issues arising on account of:
- A faltering economy
- Supply chain issues
- Pressure on account of surge in online orders and more.
Businesses will therefore need to:
- Have a crisis plan in place to adapt to evolving circumstances
- Relook at their offline-online sales channel mix
- Focus on social selling rather than push marketing
- Innovate to make use of emerging opportunities
While these are areas that businesses need to prepare for, overall as a thumb rule, businesses that are flexible and can leverage their digital and e-commerce solutions are likely to emerge stronger in the long run.
Even above their sales channel mixes, businesses need to focus on building genuine long-term relationships with their customers in these times of crisis. In fact, businesses that are able to reinvent themselves to cater to real humans need in this hour of crisis are the ones that are likely to stand the test of time.
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